Monday, January 9, 2012

The King's Speech


Dramas aren't usually the sort of movie I gravitate towards - I like to laugh too much. However, I am an anglophile if nothing else and so The King's Speech has been on my to-watch list for awhile. I actually won a copy of it in a silent auction late last year but it got pushed out of the viewing rotation by Netflix and holiday movies. But, it was time to watch it finally and happily I had shortbread and chocolate in the apartment from Christmas gifts which seemed like, along with a cup of tea, the best snacks for a proper British film.

Now, what I am a sucker for is an inspiring story. Normally, these tend to be sports-focused but The King's Speech is a fabulously inspiring story of a reluctant monarch with a stutter. I knew little about the story of George VI and his struggle with his speech - I knew less about his brother Edward and Wallis Simpson as I always found the story almost disgustingly romantic (odd for me right?). I am glad I never liked the story actually because after reading up on the history, they really weren't all that nice it seems.

Anyway, the film follows the struggles of Albert trying to overcome his stutter to fulfill his public duties as a prince and later as George VI after his brother's abdication. I loved seeing Albert's relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, played delightfully by Helena Bonham Carter. I also liked seeing the glimpses of his relationship with his daughters. As the film explores, Albert didn't have a happy childhood, overshadowed by his older brother and Crown Prince, so to see that he makes an effort to be a good father and involved in his daughter's lives was kind of adorable. It helps that Albert is played by Colin Firth who, quite rightly, won an Oscar for his performance of Albert/George. In this final scene of the film when George delivers his first wartime speech, you want to stand up and cheer him on. Luckily for George, he does have his own personal cheerleader, his unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue played delightfully by Geoffrey Rush. The scenes in which Logue and Prince Albert do his many speech exercises are laugh out loud funny - I especially enjoyed the use of swear words in his speech therapy. It was a great way to lessen tension in some of the most fraught moments of the film.

I also loved the photography and set design of the film. I'm not one to notice things like this normally but I felt like the film just presented an atmosphere that was perfect for its story. Somewhat gloomy yet mellow, The lighting was often dim, the sets earth tones even when in the palaces of England. I liked the somber, close feeling that gave the viewer - as if I was a part of the family shown rather than watching the royals put on their game face for the world.

A witty drama with a great atmosphere - I think it's a great mid-winter film to check out!

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